Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BN government never stood by the rakyat in the Bukit Merah – Papan Controversy.

By: Choo Sing Chye

Never for once, the Barisan Nasional government has stood by the rakyat on issues that are dear to their hearts.  For an example, their pursuit for a cleaner environment had always hindered by the machination of the government.  

Apparently by not having the rakyat’s welfare at heart, the Minister of the Science, Technology & Innovation Ministry (MOSTI), Maximus Ongkili has forsaken the “prime duty” of the regulatory authorities that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had proposed. 

The IAEA, which was invited by the government during the Bukit Merah and Papan controversy made many recommendations, and one of them was the “prime duty” which the regulatory authorities should “adhere”: 

 “there is one principle to which all should adhere: regulatory authorities (Government) should be effectively separated from implementing organization (ARE), since … the prime duty of regulatory authorities is to protect Man and the environment, ensuing the … radiation doses to Man do not contravene the recommendations of the ICRP  regulation.” 

Contrary to what the IAEA had recommended,  the Federal and the State Government, in the case of the  Papan and Bukit Merah controversy, chose to  sideline the welfare of the rakyat and sided with the giant  conglomerate – Mitsubishi Chemical, Japan. 

Likewise in Ongkili’s case, by ignoring the rakyat’s welfare,  he had deviated from the  “prime duty of (the) regulatory authorities…  to protect Man and the environment”.  

Unmistakably, the proof is in his unambiguous expressed statement which he said: “the onus is on them ( anti-Lynas group), not on me, to say that decision of the board is not correct. So give me additional information to point to the fact that it was not a wise decision.”  (Ongkili’s interview with Malaysian Insider, April 15, 2012)

Let us wind back the clock to twenty eight years ago, in the same frame of mind, the then Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Amar Stephen Yong, let loose his uninhibited hostility towards the residents of Papan and Bukit Merah by demanding proof that the radioactive dumping was hazardous to health.   He also challenged critics of the radioactive waste dumps to prove that the dumps were not safe.

Following close behind, Ramli Ngah Talib, the then Menteri Besar, told the press that the Thorium waste dumps were safe and went on to say: “that although some foreign experts claimed that the dump is unsafe, it is merely their opinion ”. 

Tun Dr. Mahathir even remarked that the activists were na├»ve of the fact that the government was committed to the safety of the dumps. 

But in the end, like  huge slaps on their faces, the IAEA team reported the same faults as the experts invited by the Anti radioactive groups:

The already constructed three trenches which definitely do not meet the required specifications. They are not constructed in accordance with the basic principles of sound civil engineering and should therefore not be accepted for the storage of Thorium Hydroxide waste.”

Apparently, the crux of the matter was that the “prime duty” was not upheld in  the Bukit Merah and Papan dispute, and unfortunately, this trend has not stopped.

The importance of the “prime duty” must be upheld without fear or favour, and if we are presented with a problem similar to what had happened in Japan recently - how will the government respond?  

This is one case that the rakyat would never in a million years believe that any hanky-panky would happen in Japan – lying about the level of radiation exposure.

In Japan, where prime ministers come and go at a slightest mistake, this is a no-no, but it happens!  

But if it happens in Malaysia, then, who should bear the onus of blame?  Maximus Ongkili?

Read the full press report at :

Japan probes claim workers' radiation levels faked
Japan's labour minister on Tuesday ordered an investigation into claims that subcontractors at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant told workers to lie about their radiation exposure.

 Yoko Komiyama told a press briefing in Tokyo that she had launched a wide-ranging probe, including checks on a firm at the centre of allegations which have appeared in Japanese media in recent days.

 "This is an issue that shakes the foundation of the management of workers' radiation exposure," said the minister for health, labour and welfare.
 "We will deal with it in a strict manner if any laws were broken. (If true) this is extremely regrettable," she added.

 An executive at construction firm Build-Up in December told about 10 workers to cover their dosimeters -- used to measure cumulative radiation exposure -- with lead casings when working in areas of high radiation, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and other media said.

The move was aimed at under-reporting employees' exposure to radiation so the firm could continue working at the site of the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, the media reports said.
"Unless we hide it with lead, exposure will max out and we cannot work," the executive was heard saying in a covert audio recording, the Asahi reported.

I welcome intellectual comments only.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Nurul Izzah’s No Compulsion view – A case of misinterpretation

By: Choo Sing Chye

The recent HAKIM members’ letter (1) to Malaysia Today had prompted me to write this article. Since I am not an expert in Islam, I will not delve into the merits of the letter, and also, what had been said in the press by UMNO politicians and supporters. I only comment on the common faults of politicians in construing something that had not been said.

For a start, the letter hinges (not equates in quality) on the Greek Sophist Protagoras’ (500-430 BC) notion of “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not.” (2)

Simply said, “things are to me as they appear to me and to you as they appear to you.” And it is the task of the Sophists (professional teachers) according to Protagoras to use intellectual discourse to convince the minority to accept the better set of beliefs. (3)

The apparent distinction between Protagoras and the HAKIM’s members’ proposal in this particular context of argument, is the targeted group.

Protagoras intents to influence the minority (perhaps non-Greeks or non-Sophists) with a better set of intellectual arguments and the HAKIM’s members, within the Muslim group with the truth.

UMNO leaders and supporters arguments

One common fault of the Malaysian politicians are that they are not precise in their arguments. In Nurul’s case, they literally do not put a limit or a precise boundary on the attributes to her no-compulsion view. They do not care whether or not the attributes belong to her.

Nurul’s no-compulsion view is CONDITIONAL and the majority of criticisms veered away from the intended point.

Now let’s go back to the common fault which I will emphasize by using the Aristotle’s Infinite term, “not-man” which has an infinite meaning.

Examples of not-man are Samsung Galaxy S3, the moon, television, worms, chicken, monkey, car, pistol, , wok, sand and etc., etc., etc. We can literary fit the entire universe between man and not-man, leaving nothing out. (4)

In fact, if they assign these meanings to not-man, they are not wrong. But what is wrong is that they have assigned these to a reflective view in an “infinite” fashion. This should not happen because between Compulsion and no-Compulsion, there is absolutely nothing. This is what one calls the Law of Excluded Middle as opposed to the “Infinite” term.

The Excluded Middle

In the Excluded Middle, it is either Compulsion or no-Compulsion.

Take the examples of yes and no or wise and not wise. There is nothing in the middle. We cannot say middle yes or middle wise. It is either yes or no, wise or not wise. Therefore both cannot be right or true, and at the same time wrong or false. (5)

Now we are left only with the compulsion and no-compulsion.

We cannot quarrel over attributes between compulsion and no-compulsion because there are nothing in the middle. We can only dispute attributes within the compulsion or the no-compulsion.

Thus, when we argue on attributes within compulsion or within no-compulsion, we are treading into an area that needs an advance degree of competence or an above average knowledge on the subject matter. This is what Protagoras and the authors of letter from HAKIM’s implied.

Removing the doubt.

It is without doubt, there are caveats in Nurul’s “no compulsion” view. And it is very important to spot these caveats before one launches an argument.

Thus, in this instant to detect these caveats, I will use the Connotation (Logic) expression.

But first, let us get a grasp on the use of Connotation in this issue. Here I will use the term house as an example.

What is a house? What does the term mean? What does it denote?

To a layman, a house can denote a city mansion, a rural lodge, a cottage, a suburban, a villa, a royal palace and it can also mean sheds, sties, caravan, caves, tree house, abandoned car and so on. (6)

But to an architect, he will definitely not agree with the layman and also will not argue with him/her. It will have no end! Thus, the architect will Connote the term house to arrive at the final accurate description.

i) The architect would use the words building or
    structure to exclude caves.

ii) He/she will imply permanency to exclude tents,
    booths and caravans.

iii) And when he/she mentions fitness for human habitation, he/she intends to exclude sheds, abandoned car and sties.

So, in finality, a house is a permanent building fit for human habitation and nothing else. (7)

Now we come to Nurul’s “no-compulsion” view. What are the caveats that she has used to exclude all her opponents’ insinuations.

The Caveats.

Nurul: “So I am tied, of course, to the prevailing views(8)

Here by saying that she is 'tied' to the 'prevailing view,' and she has put caveats to her 'no compulsion' view.

Q. What are the caveats?

A. They are the “prevailing”’ (predominant).
     and “tied” ( obligated) view.

Q. What is meant by prevailing view?

A. Prevailing view is the view that is held by 
     the Muslim Majority.

Q. Who forms the Muslim Majority?

A. Malay Muslims form the Majority in the Muslim Community. They conform to the official tenets of Islam in Malaysia with Sultans as the head of Islam.

Other Caveats

There are limitations and you know…”

You believe so strongly in your faith, that even me, being schooled in Assunta with a huge cross in the hall and an active singing Catholic society will not deter you”. (9)

The words “limitations,” “believe...strongly,” and “deter” are qualities of strength towards faith and these qualities are synonymous to the “prevailing” view.

Consequently, one would say in finality that the prevailing (predominant) views held by the Malaysian Muslims encompass none of Nurul’s opponents’ insinuations. Thus, this prevailing view has excluded Nurul from the accusations that her opponents had levelled at her.

In sum, when we are dealing with comments or views that are not indicated or said verbally, we should tread very carefully and not to compound the situation.

So, in its absence, we cannot have a runaway perception in its place – it is not fair to put words into somebody’s mouth.

At time like this, it is helpful that we refer back to the ‘Theme’ of the forum.

I welcome intellectual comments only.
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1) “Stemming the incoherence of misguided Muslim pundits,” written by Muhammad Husni Mohd Amin, Wan Mohd Aimran Wan Mohd Kamil, Muhammad Syukri Rosli and Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal 

2) “An introduction to Political Philosophy,” A.R.M.
     Murray, Published by Cohen and West 
     Ltd, London, 1953.

3) ibid.

4) “Logic,” A.A.Luce, Published by The English
     Universities Press Ltd (1958)
5) ibid.,
6) ibid.,

7) ibid.

8) Transcript of Nurul Izzah’s Q&A forum: ‘Islamic state: Which version? Whose responsibility?’ (MalaysiaKini)

9) ibid.